Roundup: A Region Attempts to ‘SOAR’

Regional cooperation key to economic renewal in Appalachian Kentucky • Newspaper goes the extra mile in public service • French press looks at rural secession in U.S. • Modern Farmer swallows the “rural subsidy myth” • Rural Kansas confronts higher infant-mortality rate.


two-day commentary package in advance of the SOAR summit (see above). There are pieces on culture, energy production, workforce development, food, politics, childhood development and other topics. Commentators range from historians, business leaders, artists, manufacturers.

The series is the equivalent of a graduate level course in rural development – with the notable difference that, unlike a business textbook, it’s readable.

(Also notable for its attention to the SOAR summit, Kentucky Educational Television has been streaming a video webcast of the proceedings.)

French Press Looks at Rural Secession Movement in U.S. The French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) looks at secessionist sentiments in western Maryland.

The primary source for the article is Scott Strzelcyzk, an activist who is pushing for western counties in the panhandle to break off from the more urban section of the state surrounding Baltimore.

“‘I think of myself as an average citizen who is sick and tired of being sick and tired,’ said Strzelcyzk, who refers to the state capital Annapolis with the same contempt that euroskeptics reserve for Brussels.”

The Rural Subsidy Myth. Modern Farmer recaps the dismal report from the USDA Economic Research Service on the rural economy. It’s good to see this information reach a broader audience. But we’re sorry to see Modern Farmer swallow the line that rural areas don’t pay their way when it comes to taxes. They cite a study that shows urban areas pay more in taxes than they receive in public spending. In reality, in a per-capita basis, federal spending is greater in urban areas. It’s a fact.

Infant Mortality. The Wichita (Kansas) Eagle looks at the rural infant mortality rate in the state:

In Kansas, infants die at higher rates than the national average. And the infant mortality rates in Kansas are higher for babies born to women who live in rural and densely settled rural areas compared to infants born to women who live in frontier (less than six people per square mile), urban and semi-urban areas, according to state vital statistics data from 2008 to 2012.

One cause could be that “women in rural areas often don’t have the same access to care as women in more urban areas.”


S.D. Ranchers Relief Fund Surpasses $1 Million. The South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund has raised more than $1 million to help ranchers who were hit by the early October blizzard. The fund is being managed through the Black Hill Area Community Foundation.

There’s still no firm tally on how many head of cattle died in the storm, but it’s likely in the tens of thousands. 

The fund is helping with financial and social-services support.

“Ranchers are a resilient bunch of folks,” [Silvia] Christen [executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association] said. “They wouldn’t be in the business if they didn’t have the work ethic and fortitude to get them through tough times. But this is a particularly hard loss and hit a lot of people. Generally the mood has been positive. They are looking to rebuild, looking at options for taking on new or leased livestock, and are talking about the future. However, there is certainly a mourning period and while moods are good, there are still a lot of tough and dark days ahead for some of these families.”